Taco Bell is back on the menu for New Zealand fast food operator Restaurant Brands.
The Auckland-based company announced its intention to introduce the Mexican restaurant chain in this country a few years ago.
But Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy said the plan was put on hold after Taco Bell's parent company, American fast food giant Yum Brands, pulled back on a roll-out of the brand into new markets outside the US.
"I think they felt they needed to consolidate the supply chain part of it," he said.
In the meantime, Restaurant Brands has begun opening Carl's Jr stores in New Zealand.
Its eighth Carl's Jr store opened in Otahuhu this week.
Creedy said the company had reached the point where another brand could be added to its stable - which also includes KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut - and he believed Yum was once again interested in rolling out Taco Bell internationally.
"Taco Bell is certainly on the radar," he said. "I'm keen to go have a look at that now ... and just update myself on where they're at and have some further discussions around possibly bringing Taco Bell to New Zealand."
Creedy said Restaurant Brands could begin opening Taco Bell stores within the next two-to-three years.
With the rise of outlets like Mexicali Fresh, Mexican food is a growing segment of New Zealand's quick service restaurant market.
Creedy said that growth in popularity made Taco Bell an even more lucrative prospect for Restaurant Brands and he expected its introduction to prompt the same kind of consumer excitement that surrounded the launch of Carl's Jr.
"I think Taco Bell brings the speed of service, which is what people want, and affordability," he said. "It's got those two things going for it. Most people admit that it's a pretty darn tasty, satisfying product."
Taco Bell has struggled to enter markets outside the US.
The brand entered Australia in the late 1990s but pulled out a few years later. It has also pulled out of other markets including the United Arab Emirates, Poland and Singapore.
Countries outside the US where Taco Bell currently operates include India, China, Colombia, the Philippines and Canada.
Taco Bell is the most profitable division of Yum's stable in the US, according to Bloomberg.